No Kill Advocacy Center 2
ters are not given adequate fund-ing by local governments to get the job done without killing, and thatthe No Kill philosophy is inconsistentwith their public safety obligations.
In the United States, however, review ofthe data, as well as the experiences ofthe most innovative, progressive, and bestperforming shelters nationwide, provethat our movement needs to re-evaluateboth the notion as to “who is to blame” aswell as “what shelters can do about it.” Toput it bluntly, shelters have the ability tosave animals who are not irremediablysuffering, hopelessly ill, or truly vicious dogs(which, combined, apprise less than tenpercent of all impounds), and they cando so very quickly. And the two mostoften cited reasons—pet overpopulationand lack of resources—have not shown tobe true barriers to success.
No Kill Is Cost Effective
To begin with, many of the programsidentified as key components of savinglives are more cost-effective than im-pounding, warehousing, and then killinganimals. Some rely on private philan-thropy, as in the use of rescue groups,which shifts costs of care from public tax-payers to private individuals and groups.Others, such as the use of volunteers, aug-ment paid human resources. Still others,such as adoptions, bring in revenue. And,finally, some, such as neutering rather than killing feral cats, are simply less ex-pensive, with exponential savings in termsof reducing births.In addition, a 2009 multi-state study foundno correlation between per capita fund-ing for animal control and save rates. Onecommunity saved 90 percent of the ani-mals, while another saved only 40 percentdespite four times the per capita rate ofspending on animal control. One commu-nity has seen killing rates increase over 30percent despite one of the best-fundedshelter systems in the nation. Another hascaused death rates to drop by 50 percentdespite cutting spending. In other words,there was no correlation between suc-cess/failure and per capita spending onanimal control. The difference betweenthose shelters that succeeded and thosethat failed was not the size of the budget,but the programmatic effort of its leader-ship.In other words, the amount of per capitaspending did not seem to make a differ-ence. What did make a difference wasleadership: the commitment of shelter managers to implement a key series ofnecessary programs.
The Data Disproves Overpopulation
The second reason often cited for failureto embrace and/or achieve No Kill is theidea of pet overpopulation, but the datahere has also not borne out the claim. It isimportant to note that the argument thatthere are enough homes for shelter ani-mals does not also include any claimsthat some people aren’t irresponsible withanimals. It doesn’t mean it wouldn’t bebetter if there were fewer of them beingimpounded. Nor does it mean that shel-
Many of the programs identifiedas key components of savinglives are more cost-effectivethan killing animals.